SRINAGAR : The political leadership of Kashmir on Saturday expressed anguish over the government of India’s response to the protests held in Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, on the execution anniversary of Afzal Guru.
The civil society members of India have also condemned the action, even as they also opposed the “irresponsible sloganeering” at JNU.
The High Court Bar Association, Kashmir, also criticised the state for the action against the students and scholars of the varsity.
Chairman Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), Muhammad Yasin Malik, termed the slapping of sedition charges on the students and scholars of Jawaharlal Nehru University students as a “glaring act of undemocratic attitude of Indian rulers and growing intolerance in India”.
“Once upon a time, the civil society movement and freedom of speech, etc used to be very strong, and Kashmiris were invited by Indians to put their point of view before their people. But this has changed in the last many years. Kashmir enmity and intolerance is increasing with each passing day,” he said in a statement issued here.
He said suppressing voices of dissent, especially of Kashmiris, was the “worst kind of dictatorship”.
Malik said the government of India’s response to JNU protests was aimed to “ruin” the future of these students and also a “ploy to suppress voices of dissent with force”.
“Today, raising voices against tyranny is termed as sedition, while the Hindu fanatics are free to glorify even the killing of Gandhi Ji,” he said.
He also criticised the international community and the civil society of India for their “criminal silence” over India’s growing “intolerance and anti-Kashmir” behavior.
They, he said, should fulfill their “obligation” and safeguard the future and lives of the “innocent” students and teachers.
Hurriyat (G) leaders call it ‘undemocratic’, ‘unconstitutional’
Senior Hurriyat Conference (G) leaders including its Jammu president, Nayeem Ahmad Khan, termed the government of India’s response to the protest at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) as “undemocratic” and “unconstitutional”.
Nayeem Ahmad Khan, who is also the chairman of National Front, in a statement issued here, said the government action was against the democratic claims of India and the freedom of expression.
“It has no constitutional justification,” he said, demanding immediate release of the arrestees.
In a joint statement, the heads of IPP-JK, Tehreeq-e-Mazahamat, and Muslim Democratic League, said India’s “colonial leaders” were “totally intolerant”.
“The so-called democracy has trampled universally-recognised democratic right of speech and peaceful assembly. It is now clear that India is backtracking from the constitutional guarantees given to its citizens and is paving way for the intolerant communal ideology of RSS,” they said.
Holding pro-Kashmir, pro-Afzal protests not a crime: Bar
Kashmir High Court Bar Association strongly condemned the arrest of SAR Geelani and Kanhaya Kumar, president JNU Students Union, saying they have been falsely booked in two cases.
“Neither holding of a peaceful protest to express solidarity with the people of Kashmir is a crime, nor raising of slogans hailing Afzal Guroo can invite any criminal action against anyone and no case can be registered against any person on such baseless allegations,” Bashir Sidiq, General Secretary, of the lawyers’ body said after Bar’s meeting here.
“It was also stated in the meeting that not only the people of Kashmir have termed the trial of Afzal Guroo unfair, unjust and contrary to law, but even numerous Human Rights Organizations of India and the World have raised questions over the trial of Afzal Guroo and have termed it a judicial murder,” he said.
Sidiq said the Supreme Court of India has authoritatively pronounced that mere raising of slogans is no offence.
“Recently the Supreme Court refused to accept charges of seduction against Ginayat Sen, whom Chhattisgarh police had arrested in 2007 and bailed him out. Even in case of Hardik Patel, the apex court allowed the Gujarat government to file a charge sheet but added that it would see that if a case of seduction is made out,” Sisdiq added.
After the arrest of SAR Geelani and Kanhaya Kumar, he said, the Delhi Police has started the witch hunting of Kashmiri students who are studying in JNU and have even debarred 8 students from studying in the University on the pretext of holding an enquiry against them.
“It is not only unethical, but also absurd and amounted to the punishing of a person without establishing the crime against him,” he said, terming the move as malicious and an act of victimization to ruin the academic career of innocent students.
The lawyers’ body demanded the immediate release of SAR Geelani and Kumar and also those who have been arrested by Delhi police along with them and for stopping the witch hunting of Kashmiri students studying in JNU.
In order to show their solidarity with Geelani and Kumar, the Bar Association has decided that its members will meet on Monday at 10:30 a.m. in the High Court Bar Complex, “where the matter will be further discussed.”
Exposes India’s insecurity over Kashmir: Legislator Rashid
Awami Itihad Party (AIP) president and independent legislator, Abdul Rashid, said booking students and scholars of Jawaharlal Nehru University for sedition reveals India’s ”insecurity” over Kashmir.
“It is unfortunate that whosoever speaks truth is being labeled as enemy’s agent and a traitor. The irrational charges against student leaders speak of state’s insecurity about Kashmir,” Rashid said in a statement issued here.
“If the government of India (GoI) can’t tolerate nominal peaceful protests by its own citizens in JNU, it needs no explanation what would be happening to Kashmiris, who are fighting for their political rights, at every nook and corner of the state.”
AIP president said police action and charges against the students “is an eye-opener for those who have been giving illogical sermons to Kashmiris”.
“The ultra-nationalist forces must understand that speaking truth, raising voice for oppressed, and condemning the judicial mur-der of Afzal Guru and Maqbool Bhat doesn’t amount to sedition. The action taken against the protestors makes it clear that state has failed to defeat and accommodate or respect the voice of descent.”
Civil society members support ‘courageous resistance against BJP’s assault on higher education’
The civil society members in India including educators, intellectuals, artists, and writers condemned police action over the students and scholars of Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.
In a joint statement circulated to media houses in New Delhi, they said they were shocked by the “appalling conduct” of Delhi Police at JNU on Friday.
They also condemned the “irresponsible sloganeering” by some people at the “fringes of a gathering” on the JNU campus to mark the third anniversary of the execution of Afzal Guru.
“We believe that such calls to ‘war, until the destruction of India’ erode the gravity of any serious discussion on any political question, be it capital punishment, human rights or even the question of self-determination. Such conduct is shameful, regardless of who does it, and deserving of the sharpest criticism.”
However, they said, the only way to counter such incidents was through a “deepening of dialogue” and not through police action.
“The police has no business to enter places of learning and harass students (including students who were clearly trying to defuse the situation and to take a stand against the irresponsible elements who gave the objectionable slogans) when there had been no breach of peace,” they said.
They also condemned the arrest of Kanhaiyya Kumar, president of the JNU Students Union, on “trumped up” charges of sedition.
The members demanded his immediate release.
“Kanhaiyya’s public statements, which are widely available, clearly show that sedition is the last thing that you can charge him with. The university authorities must take steps to ensure that the witch hunt that is ensuing against other students must also cease immediately.
Calling JNU Vice-Chancellor’s response as saddening and that of home minister of India Rajnath Singh’s as outrageous, they de-manded an unconditional withdrawal of police personnel from campuses.
They reiterated support and solidarity with the students, faculty and staff of JNU, and with students everywhere in India who are pursuing a “courageous resistance against the ongoing assault on higher education unleashed by the BJP government”.
Artists Bharti Kher and Gauri Gill, curators Gayatri Sinha and Geeta Kapur, filmmakers Iram Ghufran and Sanjay Kak, poet Jeet Thayil, associate professor AJ Kidwai Mass Communication Research Centre, Jamia Millia Islamia, Sabina Kidwai, and assistant professor at Centre for Political Studies, JNU, Rajarshi Dasgupta are among the singatories of the statement.